‘The Alchemist’, it was when I read this book, I fell in love with its author; ‘Paulo Coelho’.
Since then it has been a long romantic journey of buying the entire collection of Paulo’s books and reading them. Some of you might have read his books and must be already aware of the great writer that he is.
Paulo Coelho was born in Rio in August 1947, the son of Pedro Queima Coelho de Souza, and engineer, and his wife Lygia, a homemaker. He is a Brazilian lyricist and novelist. He is the recipient of numerous international awards, amongst them the Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum.The author has sold over 200 million copies worldwide and is the all-time bestselling Portuguese language author.
As a teenager, Coelho dreamed of an artistic career, something frowned upon in his middle-class household. In the austere surroundings of a strict Jesuit school, Coelho discovered his true vocation; to be a writer. On Coelho’s opposition to follow a traditional path and their failed attempts to suppress his love for literature his parents took it as a mental illness, thus when he was seventeen, his father had him admitted to a mental institution, twice. After he became involved with a theatre group and started to work as a journalist, his parents brought him back to the institution once more. Later, at his parents’ wishes, Coelho enrolled in law school and abandoned his dream of becoming a writer.
In the excitement of 1968, when the guerrilla and hippy movements took hold in Brazil, he dropped out of Law school and lived life as a hippie, traveling through South America, North Africa, Mexico, and Europe. He sought spiritual experiences travelling all over Latin America in the footsteps of Carlos Castaneda. Upon his return to Brazil, Coelho worked as a songwriter, composing lyrics for Elis Regina, Rita Lee, and Brazilian icon Raul Seixas. Composing with Raul led to Coelho being associated with magic and occultism, due to the content of some songs. In 1973, Coelho and Raul joined the Alternative Society, an organisation that defended the individual’s right to free expression and began publishing a series of comic strips, calling for more freedom. Members of the organisation were detained and imprisoned. Two days later, Coelho was kidnapped and tortured by a group of paramilitaries.
This experience affected him profoundly, and thus at 26 having led enough life living on the edge he wanted to be ‘normal’. In 1986, Coelho walked the 500-plus mile Road of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, a turning point in his life. On the path, Coelho had a spiritual awakening, which he described autobiographically in The Pilgrimage. A year later, Coelho wrote a very different book, The Alchemist. The first edition sold only nine hundred copies and the publishing house decided not to reprint it. But Coelho did not surrender his dream. He found a different and a bigger publishing house and wrote Brida. The book received a lot of attention in the press and thus both The Alchemist and The Pilgrimage appeared on bestseller lists. The Alchemist has gone on to sell more than 83 million copies, becoming one of the best-selling books in history, and has been translated into 67 different languages, winning the Guinness World Record for most translated book by a living author. Paulo has gone to write many other best-selling books, including By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept, The Fifth Mountain, The Devil and Miss Prym, Eleven Minutes, Like the Flowing River, The Valkyries, The Zahir, and Adultery.
Today, Paulo’s books appear at the top of best-seller lists worldwide. Coelho writes up to three blog posts a week at his blog and has over 28 million fans on Facebook and more than 11 million followers on Twitter. Coelho discussed his relationship with readers through social media platforms with The Wall Street Journal in August 2014.
Coelho and his wife, Christina Oiticia, are the founders of Paulo Coelho Institute, which provides support and opportunities for underprivileged members of Brazilian society.
For me, He and his books are a great source of inspiration about life.
I would recommened you to read some of his works if you have not.
“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dream”. Paulo Coelho